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From recruitment to homecoming, trench warfare to aerial combat, Bridgeman Footage is now home to a growing collection of rare and enlightening film from the First World War.
When the Great War broke out in 1914, civilians across the world heroically signed up to defend their nations. Believing the war would be a short one, and that they would return by Christmas proud and victorious, the troops’ departures were full of hope and celebration. Leaving behind their familiar lives of work and domesticity, men set off to undergo rigorous training and women went into the factories, heavily contributing not only to the manufacturing of the war’s artillery, but also to women’s gradually evolving social status.
Included within this WWI footage collection are many clips of infantry combat filmed amidst many of the Great War’s battles. This includes one of the War’s largest and bloodiest offensives, the Battle of the Somme, 1915, in which the collective death toll was over one million. Stretching along the entire Western Front, where the most prominent example of trench warfarecould be found, occurred the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which lasted from September 1918 until the Armistice.
On 1st May 1915, the British ocean liner, RMS Lusitania, set off from New York City on a transatlantic voyage to Liverpool, England. Seven days later, as it sailed through an official war zone near the coast of Ireland, the ship was struck and sunk by a German U-Boat torpedo. Claiming the lives of over one thousand civilians, this disaster played a part in America's entry into the Great War and became an iconic symbol in the country's military recruitment campaigns. Click through to view more footage of battleships, U-Boat submarines and naval artillery.
WWI was the first war in which aircraft were deployed in military use on a large scale. Typical 1914 aircraft could carry only very small bomb loads – the bombs themselves, and their stowage, were still elementary. Biplanes, airships and observation balloons all feature within the Bridgeman Footage WWI collection, as well as pilots in action, notably Hermann Göring (who later became a leading member of the Nazi Party).
On November 11th 1918 came the end of the Great War and eventually the surviving, war-weary soldiers were able to return home. America’s 369th Infantry Regiment arrived back in New York in 1919, seen here disembarking at NYC Harbour “Harlem Hellfighters” and the “Black Rattlers”. This Infantry is known for being the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Force during the war. On 28th June, 1919, the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers was officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. This controversial treaty required Germany to acknowledge its responsibility for causing the war and pay some $33 billion in reparations, the last payment of which was made on October 3rd, 2010, thus allowing one to argue that the 1st World War officially ended only three years ago! The clip features the then British PM, David Lloyd George, the American President Woodrow Wilson, and the French and Italian premiers, George Clemenceau and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. Many other military leaders and dictators of the Great War feature within the collection, such as German Emperor Wilhelm II, Paul von Hindenburg, Marshal Philippe Pétain, and General John J. Pershing.